Brigette's Reviews > The Incredible Book Eating Boy

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers
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Mar 05, 12

Read in March, 2012

The backgrounds for the illustrations in this book are phenomenal. From the establishing shot, all the way to the final opening, the illustrations are backed by images of very old paper. This made me wonder if books, like wine, become better as they age, and young Henry was just leaving his scraps for the illustrator to use as he told Henry’s story. One qualm I have with the way this was done is that I wish that the illusion of the old paper went all the way to the end of the pages, but on nearly half of the pages, there are white borders showing where the background ends. I will admit that I spent several minutes analyzing the background paper on the third opening. It shows Henry onstage as “’The Incredible Book Eating Boy,” and right in the gutter there is something that looks like texture on the paper, but I cannot figure out what it is, and I just want to know if it has anything to do with the events of the story. I feel like there must be some kind of symbolism in which kind of paper is used for which illustration, but perhaps I’m just trying too hard. The way the story ends is interesting to me because it isn’t a complete sentence. However, I think that readers are supposed to believe that it was, at some point, a complete sentence. The last of the text says, “Although every now and then,” and there is no more. However, there is a big bite out of the book right where the next words would be. This leads readers to believe that Henry did not completely give-up his odd habit.
The cover of this book gives a very strong circus feeling through its typeface, also just because the title leads readers to think of a freak-show that they would see at a circus or fair. Its illustration shows Henry eating a stack of seven books all at onece. The back cover has a disclaimer that says “Please do not try to eat this book at home,” and is accompanied by an illustration that depicts a very large red book talking to Henry. The change between the front and back covers seem to tell that there will be a change throughout the course of the book, but the in bite out of the corner of the back cover, however, tells us that the change may not be as deeply-penetrating as that large book would like it to be.
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